I blame Neil Armstrong for me not being fluent in French.
On 16th July 1969, towards the end of my first year at my Tooting grammar school, a TV was hurriedly bundled into the classroom during a French lesson, for us to watch the Moon landing.
I welcomed any excuse to miss French and would have been happier watching an old episode of The Clangers (which inspired space travel) in preference to conjugating verbs like Avoir, être or faire la grève (a popular verb in late 1960s France).
I look back fifty-years and wonder if Neil Armstrong (whose cameo in Hello, Dolly I particularly enjoyed) regrets not taking a golf club like one of his successors? I’m not a trained astronaut, but given the choice of essential items between a six-iron and more oxygen, I’d opt for more breathable air!
Despite being a frequent flyer, I probably wouldn’t make it as an astronaut; during any hint of turbulence, I’m grabbing the stranger next to me’s arm as if I were a human tourniquet. So, going at 6,164 mph, as the Saturn 5 rocket did, wouldn’t appeal – unless Buzz Aldrin wanted his blood supply cut off.
I’ve never walked on the Moon (unlike Neil Armstrong and Sting), and I still don’t know the past participle of the verb atterrir!
Clair de Lune